My name is Gary Jacobson. I worked in this beautiful Southeast Asian paradise for my rich uncle Sammy. Here I am on patrol, a combat infantryman with B co 2nd/7th 1st Air cav. War was a horribly traumatic enigma for an entire lost generation. We were the flower of America's youth, who found the toll heavy to bear in body, mind and soul. I was "Gungho Naive" when I arrived "In Country." I returned to my homeland across the pond wounded in body and spirit, disillusioned in many ways that would last a lifetime. I am proud to have served my country, but hope we can learn from the history of this "Undeclared War." I sincerely hope we will not doom our children to fight senseless battles as did we, shackling them to similar fates suffered by their fathers. There is no glory in war...only death and misery! Sometimes war is a necessary evil...sometimes not...sometimes there's Vietnam! My fervent wish is that there be peace evermore, and war-no-more!
Recently however, I had occasion to write a letter to the editor in a local paper, but was refused a posting of my url, which I feel goes a long ways towards explaining many insights into war and hoped for peace. Veterans of combat would like the public to know the horrors of war, for the public vitally needs to know of the grim horrors that are the reality of war, if we are ever to change our hawkish attitudes towards war as an acceptable solution to our problems. The people totally unaware need to know of the grim horror. Otherwise, get ready for the next round...
A newspaper columnist looking at the picture above, in which I stated I had just been shot at, replied, "I just gotta ask one question. IF, AS YOU SAY, the picture depicts you right after someone tried to shoot you, and bullets are whizzing through the air and pocking the dirt at your feet, what the heck are you doing sitting up and smiling at the camera? Why is that other guy just standing there with "TARGET" written all over his face? I don't understand why you're so angry, Gary?"

Well, when I look at the picture I don't see a smile. I see a very tired, very dirty infantryman, ready to resume a very dirty day. By the way, it was later this day that that sniper and his friends ended my war...felled by a booby trap, a trip wire that set off a grenade, that in turn set off a mortar round...ruined my whole day! This is a poem I wrote to two journalists at that paper, for the saddest cut of all is, I really don't think they understand just how insulting their demeanor was to Vietnam veterans.

Flash! Just as I was setting this poem I received good news from Mr. Don West, a columnist writing for the Jennings Daily News, Jennings, Louisiana. Don writes, "Having been one of your website fans for a time, I have decided to try and share your talents with more people. If you will allow me, I would like to publish this column in the Jennings Daily News, Jennings, Louisiana. Though not a world wide journal, I have many loyal readers whom I think would be interested in your works. God has Blessed you with a wonderful gift and I only wish to share it with others. If you will, please grant me permission to embellish your name and abilities." Mr. Don West's humbling article is printed below the poem, "Gee, Mr. Newspaperman."

Gee Mr. Newspaperman combat grunt

by Gary Jacobson

Gee Mr. Newspaperman so witty and so wise,
Of what do you surmise?
You saw my smiling face in a picture
Under a boony hat.
The caption read I’d just been shot at,
And what did you say to that?

I mean, here I was in full combat gear,
In "the park" they called Vietnam
Mid worlds of terror and fear,
And all you can say is, "I see a problem."

“Look here, look here, if, as you say,
Fighting in the bad jungle fray,
A sniper shot at you to make you fear,
Why oh why did you have a smile ear to ear?"

"If, as you say,
You lived in terror every day,
What’s that man doing standing there with “Target”
Written all over his face?
If, as you say, there was a shooting,
Wouldn’t he be hiding someplace?”

“Why am I still so disturbed?” you say,
At such an ordinary task
Though it was such a long, long ways away.
"My advice to you is, just get over it.
Forget what happened in that foul jungled pit.
Forget what happened so many long years ago,
Since in the jungle you had to go,
Facing a dreadful Vietcong foe.”

“Can’t you just file Nam's bad memory away?
It's over, why can't you just walk away?
Look to the future, there’s a brighter day.
Forget dwelling in the past,
Reliving old memories over and over rehashed.
What’s past."

“Put a bridle on that hate,
Festering inside that at you then ate.
Forget Nam's life of killing,
The very thought of it completely chilling.
Just forget it, it’s easy enough to do.
Look forward to a future sparkling new.
Get on with the rest of your life.
Don’t make for yourself
A world of stresses and strife."

Gee Mr. newspaperman so witty and so wise,
Of what do you surmise?
Don't you believe what I have to say?
You think I made up that cruel Asian war in play?
Wanna come touch my purple hearts today?
Wanna poke fingers in bullet holes in my leg and head?
Wanna hear about the time for my country I bled?

When I say "after" Charley tried to shoot me,
I didn't mean seconds after he tried to shoot me.
Be reasonable sir, so witty and so wise.
I meant after we had taken care of business,
With all that implies.
Do you think Vietnam vets are just whistling Dixie
When they say Nam has changed their destiny,
Forever full of nightmare and shadow...forever?
You say, "It really wasn’t all that bad.
It shoudn't have left you all that sad,
That Vietnam war
That I go on record to abhor."

"Still, After 33 years, I've gotta ask you,
Now answer true,
Why are you Vietnam vets still so mad?
I can't understand what's the big deal,
The wars over and gone, don't you feel?
You're just old soldiers feeling sorry for themselves
With an overactive imagination,
In consternation,
And exaggeration."

Gee Mr. Newspaperman so witty and so wise,
Of what do you surmise?
Can't you conceptualize?
Wanna dose of reality?
If so, I can give you plenty.
Wanna hear tell of the Nam's raging inanity,
The political war in full blown insanity?
For your information I'll reiterate,
"War is hell!"
And Vietnam was a senseless hell!

Mr. Newspaperman so witty and so wise,
Of that can you conceptualize?
Every day living and smiling
Went on with the dying,
Just the same.
If it didn’t we would be driven quite insane.

For death and dieing was all around us.
Charley Cong did his best in every way to kill us.
Twenty four hours a day times seven,
Makes one a future bleak,
Charley loved us enough
To send us straight to hell or heaven,
Not particular where, just some other place,
Somewhere out of his face.

No I don’t want to make you feel guilty.
Don't get a defensive mentality.
This isn’t even about you,
Or the blisters your hind end imbue.
Still, you should show more respect
For your life and freedom did soldiers effect.

War is of more import than the Legacy highway,
Even more important than "Combs traffic one-way."
I know war is horrible,
Almost unspeakably terrible.
It makes you want to look the other way,
But the subject is important...
Life or death important.
And like it or not,
War's specter lives on in us still,
Dwells in veteran's memories still,
Lies in our future still.

Gee Mr. Newspaperman so witty and so wise,
Of this fact can you conceptualize?
Brave men heard their nation’s call,
And didn’t shirk at all...
They answered, putting on the line their all.
They did their duty chore.
These, just "boys next door,"
Praying to God they could come back again
Resume a life from a past in battle's din,
From foggy dews darkning dim,
Way, way back then,
Back before innocence was lost from them.

But Mr. Newspaperman so witty and so wise,
Can you this fact even conceptualize?
war has taken an evil toll,
Fingers of hate and killing,
Distrust hearts and minds filling,
Nightmare’s that come haunting,
These “boys next door’s” soul.
You ever thought of doing your countries killing?
It’s a prospect quite disturbing,
Looking in a man's face
Before you send him to hell.
You can't ever get rid of death's evil smell,
Diametrically opposed to values learned well
From childhood taught,
God's purest thought.

Is it any wonder veterans are with nightmares fraught,
Suppressing anger in a catch 22 caught,
For war turned everything we knew upside down,
Like living in a park swing spinning round.

It’s hard to live in a world
Where you now don’t belong,
Where everybody's in tune, except you,
Singing in sadness a different song.
Where oh where did we go wrong?
That American flowers America did shun.
When home from war came their favorite son,
Protesters jeered curses at them,
Oh I hope you weren't one
Spitting in veteran's faces,
Calling soldiers national disgraces,
Men fighting, dying, giving lives for them.

Flower child protesters, men fresh from fighting could take,
Piece of cake,
But the biggest disillusionment came
From they warriors dearly loved.
Loved ones didn’t want to hear of “it,”
Nam's little gambit,
Not a bit,
The society who sent "Boys Next Door"
To war,
Had now grown rather tired of it,
And were ready to move on,
Turning their backs to "Boys Next Door,"
Carriers of war's killing infectiuon absurd.
Vietnam officially became a dirty word.

We Veterans had so very much to talk about,
To those we loved devout
To get off our chest,
In order to put this cruel war to rest.

After all, had we not in a far away land fought,
Faced horrors that left us distraught
So protesters might have the freedom to protest,
So newspapermen could write a scholarly digest
With free speech
Teachers could freely teach
So judges might freely judge, in freedom,
Soldiers won the keys to the kingdom
That law makers acting by and for the people,
Might freely be governed by principle
To indeed enact judicious laws,
Because of soldiers who fought without pause.

Vietnam veterans by their own kin rejected,
Felt stories of war heartaches deflected
As in no other war,
In the grand history of war
Good men say they abhor.
So soldiers of Vietnam buried the horrors deep,
Deep where the darkest secrets sleep,
Where horrors go to hide,
Deep and deeper down inside
Forever in wounded hearts to abide.

Stresses there fomented,
With the cruel war's agitation unvented,
Insidious combat strains fermented.
Turbulent pressures bubbled.
The horrors of all they'd seen boiled,
And through it all, Viet vets wondered why,
They hadn’t too died!

Gee Mr. Newspaperman so witty and so wise,
Can you this fact even conceptualize?
For combat infantryman Nam meant sheer terror.
New age miracles of science in unmitigated horror,
That soldiers for a lifetime effects.
With cancers, diabetes, birth defects
Men were unprepared for the boon of technology,
Like Agent Orange that not only harmed ecology,
But gave soldiers something to take home for posterity.
Helicopters put soldiers and fighting
Napalm’s sheer horror brought burning death to stay,
Pains of blood, mud, and battle never to allay.
For there was no front from which to retreat and rest,
Combat skills, "Man's inhumanity to man,"
Constantly test.
A year of traumas...again and again and again,
Wagering war and lives without end.
In constant life and death situations,
Over and over charging raw nerved battalions
Routing out nightmares that lay hidden,
Until years later to the surface bidden,
Replayed again and again and again and again!

I still have an urgent panic to hit the dirt
whenever I hear a loud noise alert.
My wife brushes me with her fingernail in sleep,
And her fingernail becomes a bayonet thrust
Back there in Nam jungles deep.
From the bed I feverishly leap,
Rolling over and away,
Mid sheets in disarray
Back at her coming,
Blood in my eye, ready to kill,
My beloved’s blood in anger to spill...
When thankfully...I awoke.
Mr. newspaperman, this is no joke.
Vietnam and the problems it causes even today
Is no joke.

Mr. Newspaperman so witty and so wise,
Of what do you surmise?
Can you this fact even conceptualize?
When will we ever learn?
I mean, think of it. When will we ever learn?
If we are to avoid a repeat of history,
We must first learn from history...
Or yet another generation will be shackled,
A nation's war-dogs to fight doom
In hoary gloom,
The latest in a series of wars-to-end-all-war!
Good men say they abhor.
Please, my plea hear,
There are none so deaf as they that will not hear.
Please listen to me,
There are none so blind as they that will not see.
(front L) Larry Jackson (Killed Jan '68), Smith,
Tony Quitmeyer (Killed Jan '68) Eeil Gooding.
Photographer: Romain Voeller

The Best of Don West *** Publish Date August 31, 2000
Jennings Daily News, Jennings, Louisiana.


It's just a name, Gary Jacobson. It probably doesn't mean any more to you than it did to me, before I had the opportunity to view some contributions to the World Wide Web. He just introduces himself as a "grunt". Actually, he was an Infantryman with the First Air Calvary, Company "B" in South Vietnam until he "bit the dust" in April of 1967.

Many who read this weren't even born in 1967, but should know that young men and women, mostly teenagers, who answered the call of their country, were fighting and dieing on unhearalded battlefields in a sliver of a country 10,000 miles from home. Though some gave all, all gave some and Gary Jacobson was one who gave more than many. I know not the extent of his injuries, for I have never met Gary, but only briefly corresponded with him through e-mail. Once you visit his website, he will gladly share more of his thoughts with you, as he writes more, and creates more beautiful websites. His poetry touches the heart, and whether you experienced the horrors of war or not, while reading some of his poems, will feel as if you are marching step by step with his squad at "Landing Zone Betty", his home away from home.

How does one become friends with someone he never met? The answer is that we are all God's children, each Blessed in some way with talents meant to be shared with each other. Gary has the ability, to bring the tragedies, as well as the lessons of the heart, home from a place that was "hell on earth" for the many who served there. His command of the word, his creativity, and his willingness to share with each of us who reach out, is a gift only God could have given Gary. Though we may never know if Gary's name will be recorded in the rolls of history along with Keats, Byron, Longfellow, Kilmer and others, his message and his vehicle is one that we can all enjoy.

If you have the chance, sit down in front of a computer and log onto and take the "Vietnam Picture Tour" with Gary. You will enjoy the music and photographs, and the poetry will stir your soul. If you cannot remember the website, I will place a link in my column when it is posted to the web at You can link to his site from there. Feel the terror of war in "My Thousand Yard Stare," or "I Thought I'd Died," learn of the tragedies from "Song Of Napalm," or "A Mother Lost Her Son to War." Do read his, "A Combat Soldier's Prayer," and his touching tribute, "Soldiers Of The Wall." When you visit, don't miss what I consider one of his best works thus far. "A Soldier's Seven Guardian Angels," seems to be Gary's acknowledgement of the Spirit feeling that protects and calms the combat soldier. It is worth the trip to the website.

Having never personally met Gary, yet feeling a kinship to him, because we served the same country on the same battlefield, I have cause for concern for Gary and maybe others like him. If there is a tragedy here, it may be that Gary has never been able to return completely from the horrors of this awful place where we sent our sons and daughters to die. Maybe Gary's contribution to mankind will be that we can study our mistakes of the past and vow to seek only peace, putting aside petty grievances, jealousies, and anger, so that we may never again allow them to become wars where the blood of American youth is shed.

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VIETNAM PICTURE TOUR from the lens of a combat infantryman
Through pictures and poetry take a walk in "the park" with the 1st Air Cavalry on combat patrol. Experience the chilling reality that will give you the taste of "the Nam" on your tongue, leave the pungent smell of "the Nam" in your nostrils, and imbed textures of "the Nam" in your brain as though you were walking beside me in combat.

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